Jonathan Crowe

I’m a blogger and writer from Shawville, Quebec. I’m best known for DFL and The Map Room. Lately I’ve been reviewing science fiction at AE and editing a fanzine called Ecdysis. More about me.

My Correct Views on Everything

Projections, Polls and the Pontiac Constituency

Mainstreet has released the results of several riding-level polls in the Ottawa area, giving us better data on how each party is doing than we’ve had to date. Until now, in the absence of such poll results, I’ve been making do with’s riding-by-riding projections. These projections should be taken with a grain of salt: their methodology involves applying a multiplier based on current regional polls to the results the last time around (e.g., if a party is doing 10 points better in the polls than they did in the last election, apply that multiplier to the results in each riding).

One of the five ridings Mainstreet polled was mine, Pontiac. So now not only do we have a better sense of what’s going on in this riding, we also have a cautionary tale of just how much salt we need to take those riding-by-riding projections with. has for the past week or two been characterizing the Pontiac as a close three-way contest, with the Conservative candidate, Ben Woodman, holding a slim lead until today; the Liberal candidate, Will Amos, is now projected to have a 50 percent chance of taking the contest.

Except that the Mainstreet poll says it’s not a three-way contest. They have Woodman well behind, with only 17 percent of the vote. According to Mainstreet, it’s a two-way contest between Amos and the incumbent NDP MP, Mathieu Ravignat, with Ravignat leading Amos 29 to 28 percent. Among decided and leaning voters, Ravignat leads by two points, 36 percent to Amos’s 34 percent, with Woodman bringing up the rear at 19 percent.

Chart: 2011 Election Results vs. Projection vs. Mainstreet Poll, Pontiac Constituency
2011 Election Results vs. Projection vs. Mainstreet Poll, Pontiac Constituency

(Note that in 2011 the Pontiac constituency had substantially different boundaries.)

The poll had a sample size of 673. Its margin of error is ±3.74 percent, which is to say that Amos and Ravignat are essentially tied. But the story doesn’t necessarily end there, because it matters how the Pontiac riding was sampled. As I’ve shown elsewhere, different parts of the Pontiac vote in different ways: last time around the Conservative candidate won the Pontiac MRC proper, split the Gatineau Valley with the NDP and got roundly clobbered in Gatineau proper and the surrounding exurbs. If Mainstreet oversampled the urban and exurban areas, Woodman might actually be doing better than the poll suggests — but not necessarily by much, because the deep rural areas only make up a third of the riding’s population. And vice versa, if they oversampled the rural areas.

If nothing else, these poll results may give some relief to anyone who was planning on voting strategically and agonizing over the choice: you can vote for whomever you want without fear of splitting the vote. (Mind you, I think that in a close three-way race strategic voting is pointless, because it’s impossible to know what the right call is — but that’s a subject for another post.)

A Fantasy Map Roundup

    Map for The Fifth Season by Tim Paul

  1. N. K. Jemisin talks about the map that accompanies her new fantasy novel, The Fifth Season. Uncharacteristically for a fantasy map, but appropriately for the novel, it indicates tectonic plate boundaries. Also uncharacteristic is its use of shaded relief to indicate mountains. The map was executed by Tim Paul, whose portfolio is here.
  2. is giving away 10 copies of a fold-out poster map that accompanies the boxed set of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy. (Entry deadline is October 9 at noon EDT.)
  3. Jake Hayes is collecting maps from children’s fiction on Pinterest.
  4. At The Funambulist last January, Léopold Lambert discussed the use of cartography in François Schuiten and Benoit Peeters’s 2004 graphic novel The Invisible Frontier (Vol. 1, Vol. 2).

    As Fabrice Leroy exposes in “The Representation of Politics and the Politics of Representation in Schuiten and Peeters’s La Frontière Invisible,” (History and Politics in French-Language Comics, Jackson: The University of Mississippi Press, 2008, 117-136), two cartographic paradigms oppose each other throughout Schuiten and Peeters’ novel. The first one is carried by an old man, Monsieur Paul, who is committed to make maps that reflects on the historic conditions of a place, both at an individual empirical level and at a collective (inter)national one. This interpretation of the map is particularly illustrated in the first part of the story with the delicate care of each body interacting empirically with the model/terrain. The second one is also embodied by a character, Ismail Djunov, who undertook to automatize the process of map-making through monumental machines aiming at an objective cartography.

    Something else for me to track down. The Invisible Frontier seems to be out of print.

Black Pine Snake Listed as Threatened

The Black Pine Snake (Pituophis melanoleucus lodingi) will be designated as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed threatened status for this snake about this time last year; the listing will now take effect on November 5.

New Edition of Transit Maps of the World

Book cover: Transit Maps of the World A revised and expanded edition of Mark Ovenden’s Transit Maps of the World is coming out in early November, presumably because the transit systems, and the maps thereof, have also been revised and expanded since the first edition was published in 2007. (My review of the first edition is here.) It’s being published by Penguin in the U.S. and Particular Books (a Penguin imprint) in the U.K.

Pre-order at Amazon (Canada, U.K.)

Would You Just Look at Charon


Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, is at least as interesting as its parent planet, if this enhanced-colour high-resolution photo from the New Horizons flyby, released last Thursday, is any indication. With vastly different terrains to the north and south of a giant canyon at least 1,600 kilometres long (Charon’s diameter is only 1,214 km), Charon looks like someone took two completely different hemispheres and bashed them together with great force. Or a hard-boiled egg that wasn’t peeled very well. Image credit: NASA /JHUAPL/SwRI.

Mercator Puzzle

Mercator Puzzle (screenshot)

The Mercator Puzzle is an excellent way to visualize the distortions inherent in the Mercator projection, which conserves angles (useful for navigation) by exaggerating size at the poles (problematic in virtually every other use). Click and drag the countries in this in-browser app to see just how dramatically larger or smaller they become as you move them closer to and further away from the poles. Via Boing Boing.

Previously: Review: Rhumb Lines and Map Wars; Reversing the Mercator Effect.

Linear Lake Michigan

Linearlized Lake Michigan (Daniel Huffman)

Cartographer Daniel Huffman, whose work I posted about a few times on The Map Room, has created a map of Lake Michigan in which the lake’s shoreline has been unfurled into a straight line. “I made this map because I wanted to show space referenced against a natural feature, rather than figuring locations based on the cardinal directions of north/south/etc.,” he says. “I think it’s a very human perspective, grounded in how we relate to the lake, rather than how it looks from space.” (With a 1:6 width/height ratio, it’s also insanely long, rather like a vertical Tabula Peutingeriana, and as such hard to display an excerpt of: you have to sacrifice detail or a sense of the whole. Which is to say: go and see the whole thing.) Via Kottke.

More Maps of Ceres

False colour compositional map of Ceres

New maps of Ceres were released today at the European Planetary Science Conference in Nantes, France. One is a colour-coded topopgraphical map that resembles a map we saw earlier but adds newly approved names for topographical features. Another, the false-colour map seen above, combines imagery through infrared, red and blue filters and highlights compositional differences on Ceres’ surface (different materials reflect light at different frequencies). Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.

Previously: New Maps of Ceres and Pluto; Space Maps: Ceres, Mars, Exoplanets; At Ceres.

Eleusinian Mysteries

Another fantasy story featuring maps, Charlotte Ashley’s “Eleusinian Mysteries,” appears in this month’s issue of Luna Station Quarterly. In it, a Javanese-Dutch mapmaker named Maghfira is punished for making maps of the moon that include a seemingly fanciful feature: a city named Eleusis. Naturally — this is an sf/fantasy story, after all — Eleusis turns out to be not so fanciful, and Maghfira gets herself into further trouble in its pursuit. The story says a little about maps and forbidden knowledge, rather more about about alienation and the urge to strike out into the unknown.

Can Snakes Hear? (Hint: Yes)

Snakes are inscrutable and mysterious. That’s probably why so many people ask so many basic questions about their biology. (One I’ve run into a few times: do snakes have bones? The answer is yes, lots of them, but the question belies a confusion about what a snake is: they think it’s some variant of worm.)

Continue reading this entry

Older Entries